Notes From A Word Nerd, Issue 2

The Dashing Issue

1. Em Dash

We use these when an additional piece of information would otherwise sound awkward if enclosed by commas, or in place of parentheses, which are rarely used at Movie Pilot. There must be one space before and after the em dash.

Here are two examples of how to use em dashes:

When Daenerys called her dragon children — Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion — Jorah Mormont moaned with delight.

The Battle of the Blackwater — Stannis Baratheon’s attempt to take King’s Landing — was a much bloodier affair than the brutal Massacre at Hardhome.

To make an em dash on a Mac keyboard, hold down the following keys together: Alt/Option, Shift and Dash/Minus.

2. En Dash

This smaller version of the em dash is only used to depict a range. Basically, it replaces “to” in a relationship.

Before he leaned in to kiss Ygritte, Jon Snow killed 4­–7 White Walkers.

The uprising of the Faith Militant took place from 41–48 AC.

To make an en dash on a Mac keyboard, hit Alt/Option and Dash/Minus together.

So why are these dashes named so?

Simple! An em dash is about the same length as the letter “m,” while an en dash is about the same length as the letter “n.”

3. Hyphens

This is used to join words in a compound construction (more on that another time). Its use is to also help the reader understand an intended meaning, or as in a hyphenated name.

  • Self-evident psychopath Ramsay Bolton
  • Master-of-Coin-cum-brothel-owner Littlefinger
  • Dragon-loving Daenerys
  • Snow-white direwolf
  • Knight-turned-prisoner Jaime Lannister
  • Spider-Man
Courtesy of Tumblr.

To make a hyphen, tap the Dash/Minus key, dummy.

BONUS: Surprisingly Commonly Misspelled Names

Matthew McConaughey — noted Texan, hippie, bongo player, pothead and chest thumper — is oftentimes misspelled as Matthew McConauhgey, Matthew McConnaughey, etc.


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